Move over turkey: vegan festive dishes

23rd December 2020 | Eativity editors

While Christmas is traditionally a time for roast turkey, glazed ham, seafood banquets, buttery sauces and cream-filled pavlovas, new research indicates that more Australians are now actively reducing their animal-based food consumption, which means more plant-based feasts will be on table this Christmas than ever before.

“We all know we should be incorporating more plants into our diets, or perhaps you have a family member who’s vegan, but the idea of a completely plant-based Christmas can be quite daunting for some – especially those who are new to plant-based cooking,” says Phoebe Conway, practicing nutritionist and recipe developer at Pheeb’s Foods.

“It doesn’t have to be hard though, there are plenty of easy vegan dishes you can make that taste and look incredible so even your meat-eating guests will enjoy your Christmas lunch. Delicious and satisfying but with no animal products or dairy in sight!”

Keen to try it, but not sure where to start? Below we share some of Conway’s tips and recipes to help you create a perfect plant-based Christmas.

Ho ho ho: it’s not just Santa’s reindeer that like to munch on vegies.

Choose your main event

Every Christmas meal needs a standout main course, and a mushroom wellington will do just the trick (you’ll find the recipe below). With earthy mushrooms and delicious pastry, even meat eaters won’t feel like they’re missing out, especially with a rich vegan gravy to go with it. Another great option is a butternut pumpkin roast, which can look and taste equally spectacular. And if you’re short on time, supermarkets now stock vegan pre-made roasts too, but just be careful that they don’t contain too much sodium or other ingredients which aren’t particularly healthy.

Christmas, vegan style: a plant-based spread doesn’t have to be bland.

Work out the side attractions

You can’t have a Christmas feast without a good old potato bake. And Conway’s plant-based version will certainly hit the spot (see the recipe below). A cheesy sauce made using cashews and Califia Farms Unsweetened Almond Milk makes this bake taste just as rich but without the dairy, so everyone in the family can enjoy it. Add fresh vegies like steamed beans or broccoli, or a nice salad, and you’re in business.

Mushroom wellington with vegan gravy

You’ll need:

For the filling

2 brown onions diced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves
350g diced mushrooms
1 tbsp tamari
1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp hot mustard
½ cup cooked lentils
½ cup chopped kale or spinach, roughly chopped

For the “egg” wash

2 tbsp Califia Farms Unsweetened Almond milk
1 tbsp maple syrup
Sesame seeds for sprinkling
2 sheets vegan puff pastry (most store-bought puff pastries are vegan, just look for ones made with oil rather than butter)

For the gravy

55g vegan butter
1 onion finely diced
1 garlic clove crushed
¼ cup white flour
½ cup Califia Farms Unsweetened Almond milk
1 tsp chopped rosemary or thyme
½ cup vegetable stock
2 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

1. Pre-heat your oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with paper.
2. In a frying pan, add the onion, olive oil and garlic and cook over a low to medium heat, stirring often until the onions soften, around 5-10 minutes.
3. Add in the mushrooms, tamari, Worcestershire sauce and mustard and allow to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms soften.
4. Add in the lentils and kale towards the end and stir to wilt the greens. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly.
5. To make “egg” wash, combine almond milk and maple syrup in a small bowl, set aside.
6. Place one sheet of pastry out on the tray lined with paper, spoon the mushroom mixture into the centre of the pastry. Place the second sheet on top and then fold the sides in together to seal, gently pressing down each side with a fork.
7. Gently prick the top a few times with a knife to allow any steam to escape. Brush the top with your egg wash and sprinkle with a few sesame seeds.
8. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and cooked through.
9. To make the gravy, melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, then add the onion and garlic and cook for 5-10 minutes until softened.
10. Place the flour and a quarter cup of the almond milk into a small bowl and whisk until combined and few lumps remain.
11. Add the flour mixture along with the remaining ingredients into the saucepan and cook until thickened. At this stage you can blend the gravy with a stick blender if you want it smooth, or leave it as is.
12. Serve immediately alongside the mushroom wellington.

Cheesy vegan potato bake

You’ll need:

1 cup raw cashews
6-7 medium potatoes, thinly sliced
1 cup Califia Farms Unsweetened Almond milk
½ tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt and pinch of pepper
1 tbsp corn starch
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 onion thinly sliced
Vegan cheese, grated (optional)

Method:

1. Place cashews in a heat-proof bowl, cover with boiling water, set aside for 15 minutes.
2. Pre-heat your oven to 200°C.
3. Drain the cashews and place them in a blender with the almond milk, onion powder, salt, pepper, corn starch, vinegar and mustard and blend until smooth.
4. Place the sliced potatoes into a bowl and pour over a quarter of the sauce mixture, stirring to coat each potato slice.
5. Place potato slices in baking tray, alternating sizes. Add a slice of onion every so often.
6. Once tray is full, pour over remaining sauce to fill tray. If using cheese, add that on top.
7. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 35 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for a further 30 minutes or until browned and the potatoes are soft.
3. Sprinkle some fresh rosemary or chives on top and serve immediately.

For more recipes and inspiration for creating a plant-based festive feast, head to califiafarms.com.au

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